16 April 2016

Fitbit Surge review

Honest warnings:
This review was written by person who running for relaxing, 'losing weight' ,endurance and health reasons.
I am not expert , 'expert' or blogger who knows anything about sport science ,nutrition and etc.
I wrote this entry to improve my writing.

My Garmin Forerunner 220 is awesome, but it lacks 3 things .. step counter , sleep tracker and ability to measure various types of activities . Not a big deal, because everything else is simply awesome. Anyway .. I was started to look for device that will measure steps and my sleep pattern. I heard a lot about Fitbit and I got a Fitbit Surge.

This is a long'ish review ,  if you fancy to know what is good and bad about it, go to my findings  section under exceptions.

  • Accurate measurement of steps and distance
  • Sleep tracker
  • Heart rate monitor that works continuously
  • 8-10 hours to work on GPS and 2-3 weeks to work on idle mode


  •  + Sleep tracker is useful for me.
  •  + Automatic backlight works great.
  •  + Step counter is cool
  •  + Flexibility in measurement of various activities
  •  + Heart monitor
  •  + Silent alarm
  •  + Display

  •  + Fitbit sells many wristband sizes

  •  + UI is simple

  •  - You need install firmware and configure Fitbit online in order to use it!

  •  - Badly overestimate measurements (specially calories burnt and floor counter)
  •  - Mediocre battery
  •  - Software has poor and quirky UX ( error message, setting settings is annoying)
  •  - USB cable which has unique plug and it cause some problems
  •  - Water Resistance is not good .don't take shower!
  •  - there are some weird UI glitches like display half of the time.
  •  - floor counter is poor
  •  - settings ,setting many things can be problematic
  •  - sync is buggy and it doesn't work 
  •  - configuration flexibility is very poor
  •  - no speedometer
  •  - low battery indicator
  •  - you cannot delete activity

  •  - Calories burnt are badly wrong. Accuracy is ... 60%

  • - If you have bad luck ,installation can be very problematic.

  • In one sentence ,It was one of most disappointed product I bought for ages. I felt I bought a prototype not a full product.

    What know more ? Read my review.

    Installation and first impressions

    I was really excited to use it out of the box ,so I  unpacked and turned on and discover that I cannot use it. Sadly I saw message on screen that I need to configure device using website . Configure device using website? Weird . Anyway .... I tried to install software on Windows 10 and then after I spent 2 hours on trying to detect device and install firmware ,I gave up.
    Problem was  .. well , I don't know really as error message say  "it was unable to install ,please try again" .

    I tried to install on Windows 7 and I managed to do it after few attempts.
    On side note, after I installed  firmware on Fitbit Surge , after some time Windows 10 start detect watch  ( for short period time but it works).

    When I finally managed to use Fitbit , I hoped it was just  bad first impression and from now it will be just better. Oh boy, I was so wrong .

    On next day , I flew for holiday,so I thought I can setup everything later .
    As it turns out, it was a big mistake , because watch almost doesn't have any settings (you can turn on/off Bluetooth ,  check info .. and something else ).

    Setting time ? You need other device to do that.
    Setting alarm ? The same
    I would like to set .. .in 90% answer will be ,you can setup through pairing with device or on website or you cannot do at all.

    What I like about Fitbit is that they selling watch with various wristband size , which is a good thing. Wristband is not bad, but  for some reason I experienced some itchiness while I use on daily basis . I didn't experience that with other watches.

    So my first impression was quite bad as I got frustrating as nothing went straightforward.They were few good things like backlight.


    Walk / Steps 

    Step counter is an awesome feature and it works very well. Accuracy from my test is 95% which is great. It gets even better overtime.
    I  wanted to use  for long walks so I can see distance, calories burnt, steps and so on.
    Problem starts when you are using GPS  to track distance it as battery doesn't hold long enough to measure 'a day out' activities . According to Fitbit battery should be enough for up to 5 hours. Well. for first 2 months it is almost truth ,but in reality it will be up to 4.5 hours when you using GPS.

    + step counter is very accurate

    Running and doing other exercise 

    I went for running and first thing I noticed is ... there is  no speedometer!
    Yes, I know professionals using a pace meter, but I feel comfortable with speedometer.

    You will see distance and stopwatch and  on bottom you can select one from a very few elements like pace, or heart morning  ,but no speedometer! It made me angry . I am very disappointed. .
    I have notice that you cannot delete activity on watch.
    Everything else seems be OK

     + distance measurement is OK.
     - almost no customisation of what you want to display
     - no speedometer
     - unable to delete activity on watch.

    Floor counter 

    It sounds cool in beginning but it doesn't work very well in practice for some time.
    For me, it was a random number generator .... not floor counter.
    I walked a  8 floors , it counts 5 ... I took Tube to work .. I did 20 floors (current record) while I sitting comfortable on my ass.
    After sometime, . I have noticed that it improved a bit over time, but inaccuracy ruin everything.
    It will be awesome if you can manually control when you count these things, but sadly you cannot

    - measurement is very inaccurate
    - unable to switch of this feature

    Hearth  monitor

    Fitbit measurement are usually higher than Garmin one  but it is acceptable. 

    I think, it works as expected.

     + No need to use HRM belt!
     + measurement is OK.

    Calories counter 

    This is one of the most crap feature on this watch. Calories burnt monitor is rubbish.
    When I read about it how they calculate it I was really happy and I was looking to use it to track my calories and try use this knowledge to help me lost  weight, but I quickly notice that results are so unreliable that I feel like they were made up.
    Compare with expected results. actual are ... so wrong.  According to my calculation I burnt 3200 kcal ,where according to Fitbit I burnt like 4300 kcal!

    - measurement is very inaccurate
    - lack ability to set some values make this feature uselesss
    - DON'T USE IT FOR WEIGHT LOST ! You will put on weight if you will follow it.


    Watch doesn't display anything about sleep, but website contains lots of stuff about it.

    Battery .

    Battery is average. It should be enough  for anybody who use this watch only for exercise up to for 4 hours ,but If you want measure "day out" activity then ... you cannot use GPS.

    My expectation for sport watch are simple. It should hold  8 or more hours while using GPS  and more than 2 weeks holds in idle mode ,so I can go for day out trip without worrying about taking a  charger or go for 2 weeks holiday. Fitbit Surge fails in both cases.
    It is specially annoying ,because Fitbit using own  USB plug.

    Well , according to battery specification  can hold up to 7 days and ONLY 5 hours on GPS .
    My average battery life is 5 days on lazy days  and around 4.5 hour when using GPS. Over time, result get even worse.

    In order to see battery indicator  you need go to activities to see battery indicator. Low battery indicator appear on main screen but then it is usually to late to get back to home to charge.
    It happens to me few times that I didn't wear  watch as battery just flat out. 
    Another problem is usb cable is quite lose so it happens few times that watch haven't been charge,.

    Battery capacity is minimum that can be acceptable but  too small for long walk exploring or hiking.

    + Battery is mediocre
    - Low battery indicator appear too late
    - You cannot see battery indicator on main screen.
    - Battery is not good enough for day outs or weekend activities.
    - Charging battery can be problematic due cable to stick to Fitbit can be loose.
    - USB uses not standart plug, so if you lose it , you need buy new one.

    It is a touch Monochrome LCD .
    Display is clear and sharp.
    Using touch while running is good.
    Automatic backlight  works very well.
    Main problem is that watch display time, if you want see steps, you can swipe ,but it will stay there for few seconds .. and then back to display time. It is really annoying.

    + white-black display  is cool . It is clear and sharp.
    + Quite responsive
    - Unable to  set what you want to display  while watch is idle. 


    I used  Android application on my Nexus 9 and desktop application for Windows 7 and 10.

    I didn't test Fitbit with iOS devices ,

    On Windows 10 .Nothing seems to work.
    It was problem with install software, but after 3rd attempt it was installed and then things went much worse.  I was unable install firmware for Fitibit because I saw error .. "Unable to install ,try again" or something like that. I had no idea why .
    Sync between device and Fitbit works sometimes. However I  saw  usually a message "Windows is not responding as expected" .  What does mean ? ...  if UX designer of Fitbit read this review, then please 0read/ watch 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design by JAKOB NIELSEN and learn how to handle error message !

    Desktop application for Windows 7 is less bit buggy ,so I was able to install Fitbit firmware and I was able to sync between devices  until I updated software where  they said in release note they wrote "fix bugs" and then application for Windows 7 stops work.  What happen ?  Fitbit was unable to find my Fitbit surge  any more ... Error message was very helpful : "Not working?".

    Belive it or not ,but Android version of app is the best !  It works . You cannot do everything like on website or desktop but you can sync data between  tablet and watch statistics . Any problems ?As you can expect yes. For some reasons unknown to me you need enable ... Bluetooth (as expected) and  GPS to sync data between tablet and watch ...  Why GPS??? Why ? I don't know

     - Desktop application for Windows 10 is CRAP!
     - I was unable to install firmware for watch on Windows 10 because "Windows is not responding as expected"
    - I had many problems to install on Windows 7 ,but I managed to do it.
    - Sync  between watch and my tablet requires GPS
    - UI is simple but UX is CRAP.


    + Silent Alarm works smoothly. One of the best working feature . There is a tiny problem , if you want setup alarm clock, then you need use application .
    + Timer works and unusual for Fitbit, you can set timer in watch :). I used twice and I nearly feel "time out" as it is vibrate for short period time and that's all
    + it has achievements
    - It is water resistance but not waterproof  ,so accidental swim or shower. .


    UI looks simple but User experience is really poor. I had many problems with doing even simple things.

    For example ... on website ...sometimes you need save data by press save button  ...but sometimes not.

    I think Error handling was inspired by Windows 95 famous errors like "Error occurred". What happen ? Don't know? What should I do ? In best case scenario .. try again.

    Changing time ? What could possible go wrong ?
    In Garmin Forerunner ...turn on GPS to pick up current time ... it doesn't matter where are you .
    In Fitbit , you need sync with laptop or tablet .
    No big problem but if time changed due summer/winter or you just land in different country then ...well as long as you  have internet, then it is a problem. If you don't have then ... like me you will need use wrong time for 3 days ..
    That's not all ...
    By default Fitbit use 12 hour system , which I am sure sounds awesome for many people but as I use 24 hour system it wasn't most optimal solution,so I decided to change it.
    I expected to be able to do it in watch settings ...but I was wrong , so I check application on Android but I couldn't do it either . After quick search , I discover that you can do it using ... Fitbit website .
    Automatic time zone didn't work either.

    How to sync tablet with device? ...You just need turn on Bluetooth and GPS . 
    Why you need turn on GPS for sync ? 
    If you don't see logic in this don't worry.Logic is not something that you should use when you use Fitbit. However , I must admit that Fitbit clearly warn about this somewhere in manual or website

    Sadly, this is a typical experience with using this watch wit most features. 
    Can I say something good  ?

    Watch is comfortable to wear although it hurts my skin and I am not sure why as I never hard this problem before..


    I haven't been so disappointed since I bought Samsung Mobile.

    This could be sport smartwatch ,if they will be done job properly.
    Sadly ,It looks like Fitbit Surge suffers from MVP  disease (MVP stands for minimum viable product and it is a product with the highest return on investment versus risk.) If is somebody told me that's prototype then I will say ...it is awesome and I am looking forward  for final version .problem is ...it is a final version and it is unacceptable. In  most features I found major problems.
    I feel I bought  'Chinese cheap imitation' of some amazing product .

    Is jt worth buy? No.
    Is it worth money ? No.

    Fitbit Surge is a failure. I will never buy Fitbit product again. 

    Fitbit states The ultimate fitness super watch but it isn't .It is a prototype of cheap imitation of fitness watch.

    Garmin forerunner maybe doesn't have  step counter and automatic backlight, but when you need fitness watch for walking running or hiking then it does job well.I am sure there are many better 

    My mark is +0/4 (2/5 or 3/10), which means DON'T BUY IT

    4 - Epic,Legendary
    2- (very) Good
    1 - Ok.Average
    0 - Poor ,Rubbish,Crap

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